For the new kid in the kitchen…

Snacks

Stuffed Shrooms

Stuffed Potabella Mushrooms

Simple but vital life lesson: The best way to make something that’s already delicious even better, is to stuff it with even more tasty ingredients and then cover it in olive oil. Case-in-point – Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. Make these as an appetizer, serve them as a side dish, or serve them as a main course… JUST MAKE THEM.

If you’re looking for an easy, healthy, and quick vegetarian main dish, then this recipe is perfect for you. There are a number of food myths circulating that mushrooms have little nutritional value, but my friends that is just not true.

Because mushrooms have such a high water-content percentage, they are also quite low in calories, racking up just about 100 cal./oz. Additionally, portabello mushrooms are loaded with potassium, a vitamin great for lowering high blood pressure and preventing stroke. One medium mushroom has even more potassium than a whole banana! If you’re not convinced yet, then it might help to know that mushrooms are also loaded with a powerful antioxidant called Selenium, which may help reduce youre likelihood of getting cancer.

That’s more than enough nutritional info for now, let’s keep the Novice Noms mission in mind. The most important fact about mushrooms is that they can be delicious! This recipe takes a little more prep work than some of my previous posts, but I think you guys are up for the challenge.

Ingredients

  • 2 Large portabella mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced onion (do you remember my lesson on chopping them?)
  • 2 cloves diced Garlic
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or bread matzo crumbs if you’re like me this week)
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your shrooms

Lets get cooking

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Take the stems off your mushrooms and clean out the gills with a spoon (instructional video here).
  3. In a frying pan cook down your onions, garlic,  mushrooms and spinach. Be sure to add the spinach for only the last few minutes, as it cooks down very quickly.
  4. Add your cream cheese and bread crumbs to the pan and mix it in until fully combined.
  5. Dispense your mixture into your portabella tops and place them on a baking tray
  6. Toss them in your oven for about 20 minutes (or until the mushrooms are completely cooked).

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I recommend serving this dish up with some sweet potatoes and salad for an easy and irresistibly healthy meal.

Until next time, Enjoy!

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Apple, Walnuts, and Wine.. Oy Vey!

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It’s that time of year again fellow Jews and non-Jews… the week that we all go on a semi-Atkins, Matzah binging diet. Aka- PASSOVER. While Jews across the world have many different ways of celebrating this carb-less week, most seem to have one thing in common. Red Wine.

Not only do we down 4 glasses of it during the traditional dinner Seder, but we incorporate it into a good number of our recipes. Now, I’m not talking about a throw it in he pan and let it cook off type of ingredient here. We let our wine play a nice key role.

This brings me to my favorite (and by far easiest) Passover recipe… charoset (pronounced ha-roe-set). If you can chop, pour and mix, then this recipe is for you. And don’t let the whole “Passover recipe” thing throw you, even you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this kosher snack.

  • 3 apples – finely chopped
  • 3 cups walnuts – finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine – the sweeter the better
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • (Optional) 2 tsp cinnamon – I don’t use it, but some people love it…
*To adapt this into a healthy and easy kids snack, just substitute the wine for grape juice.

Simply mix throw ingredients in a large bowl and mix. I find it best to use your hands (despite the mess). This really lets you further crush the apples and mush everything together. Schmear some of the charoset on a piece of matzah (or cracker for my non-Jews) and consume. And if you’re anything like me, you wont even need matzah, I can go through this stuff by the spoonful just on its own.

Happy Passover, stay tuned for more recipes for the Holiday, and as always, enjoy!


Olive Oil Makes Everything Better


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I guess you could say that I am to extra virgin olive oil, what Paula Deen is to butter… a FANATIC! Aside from cake, pickles, and Cheetos, just about anything can be made better with a little EVOO (Thanks for the annoyingly simple nickname Rachael Ray).

So you’re probably wondering, what makes olive oil so much better than butter, or any other type of oil? They all do the same thing don’t they?

NOPE.

In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, containing healthy fats, protecting against heart disease, and perhaps even helping to prevent colon cancer, olive oil can be easier to cook with! Because olive oil has a higher smoke point, it can be used with higher heat without burning. This results in a flavorful food that crisps without burning. To help you substitute olive oil in for butter, here’s a nifty conversion chart.

To get your started on your olive oil endeavors, I want to give you a few of my favorite recipes to try. Each one only contains two ingredients (one of which is… you guessed it… olive oil!). Doesn’t get much easier than that…

  • Roasted Garlic

Cut the top off you bulb of garlic, exposing part of each clove. Place on a lightly oiled pan and drizzle the top with more oil, covering the bulb entirely. Cover with tin foil and back at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Scoop the cloves out and spread on just about anything (French bread is my favorite). Extra garlic should last about a week in the fridge.

  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Lightly cover a baking sheet with olive oil, then toss you halved brussel sprouts in more olive oil. Sprinkle on a dash of salt and pepper if you wish and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. I urge any and all brussel sprout skeptics to try this recipe. It may just change your outlook on life (or at least vegetables).

  • Sweet Potato Hash

See my earlier post for complete instructions. Just dice up sweet potato, coat in olive oil, and cook in a pan until browned and soft.

The list doesn’t end here people. Go out and experiment on your own! Let me know what works and what doesn’t. And as always, Enjoy!

*** BONUS ***

Some Grad school friends and I decided to make a BU COM parody of Rebecca Black’s Friday. You should probably check it out and laugh at my horrible dancing skills… Click here!


A Batch of Apple Chips a Day…

Looking for the perfect sweet and crunchy snack? Well, look no further! Easy oven-baked apple chips are here!

It’s no over-statement to say that apple’s are one of my favorite snacks of all time (I blame this on the Upstate NY childhood). Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I could eat 3 apples a day, 7 days a week. Technically speaking, I think this means that I should never have to see a doctor again in my life… However even I, the apple fanatic, can get tired of having the same old thing day-after-day.

In today’s post I’ll teach you a ridiculously easy way to turn your apples into oven-made apple chips – one of the best adaptations of this delectable fruit ever created. Now, this recipe does have a longer cook time than some other snacks and it requires some thin apple slicing skills, but trust me… it’s worth the prep.

Once made these tasty little chips will last about 2 days in an airtight container, but I dare you to try waiting that long to eat them… go on, just try it.

What you need

  • 2-3 apples – I used Braeburn, but any really crunchy variety will do
  • Baking sheet and parchment paper (or cooking spray)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of sugar

Making your chips

  • Place parchment paper on baking sheet, or spray sheet with non-stick spray
  • Slice apple as thin as possible. The thinner and more uniform your slices, the shorter your cooking time will be and the more even your chips will come out.
  • place on baking sheet. Don’t overlap your slices.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5 – 2.5 hours, or until crisp. You might need to take out your more-thinly slices chips sooner than your thicker ones to prevent burning.

See, I told you. SUPER easy and SUPER delicious! The only problem is that every time I make a batch, I eat them too quickly and need to make more…

As always, Enjoy!


Cinco de Salsa

Image compliments of http://www.AwardWinningSalsa.com

Despite how delicious last week’s Taco Soup post was, my Mexican craving has yet to be fully satiated. So, in honor of Cinco de April, I present to you Cinco de Salsa! 5 easy must-know salsa recipes that you can break out on any occasion!

The great thing about salsa is how versatile it is. You can throw it on top of just about anything to spice up your meal. Personally, I enjoy grilled cheese with tomato salsa, or baked tilapia with corn salsa… but really the options are endless.

Because this little concoction can be mixed up in an endless array or varieties, I’ve decided to start you novice chefs off with 5 basic, easy, and delectable variations (each of which is a slightly tinkered with random recipe that I found online). Feel free to change up the recipes to make them to your liking… anything goes with salsa!

Tricks of the trade:

  • Any time you use jalapeno peppers make sure you remove the seeds! If you skip this step you will be in for one fiery and unpleasant surprise.
  • Make sure you pick avocados that are ripe. This will ensure full flavor, and easier removal from shell. To test this out, search for avocados that are a deep purple cover and slightly soft to the touch.
  • Size matters. The degree to which you chop your ingredients affects both flavor and texture. Finer dices make ingredients blend in more, while larger cuts will allow ingredients to taste more bold.

Uno: Pineapple Salsa

–       Good with Fish, Pork, Chicken, or Chips

  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 squirt lime juice
  • salt to taste

Dos: Corn Salsa

–       Good with chips, chicken, beef, or pork

  • 2 large cans of sweet yellow corn
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 finely chopped red onion
  • 1 diced scallion
  • 1 diced jalapeño (remove seeds or your mouth will be on fire)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 squirts of lime juice
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste

Tres: Straight up Salsa

–       Good with anything!

  • 4 diced red tomatoes
  • 3 diced jalapeno peppers
  • 4 minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Cuatro: Black Bean Salsa

–       Good with chips, beef, and chicken

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can sweet whole kernel corn
  • 2 diced red tomatoes
  • 1 diced avocado
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/8 chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 squirts lime juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Cinco: Avocado Salsa

–       Good with chips and chicken

  • large ripe avocado
  • 1 large chopped red tomato
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 squirt lime juice
  • 2 tsp minced jalapeño pepper
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • Salt to taste

Get out there and start chopping! Which salsa is your favorite? Do you have any recipes you like that I haven’t included? I wanna hear from you!

Until next post, enjoy!


Not Just OK PB&J

Pictured above: Banana Bonanza and Breakfast PB & J

Who doesn’t love that classic childhood favorite – the PB & J sandwich. It’s cheap, quick, and easy… all of which are Novice Noms necessities. I’m pretty sure that PB & J made an appearance in my lunchbox at least 4 times a week back when I was in elementary school. As a kid I basically DEMANDED that my PB & J was made using white bread, creamy peanut butter, and grape jelly. If someone had slipped me wheat bread with crunchy peanut butter and raspberry preserves, it would have been game over. No thanks. Take that gourmet creation away!

Now that my taste buds and I are all grown up, isn’t it time to give this simple little sandwich some pizazz? Now I know I’m not the first to
try to spruce up this dynamic duo. A company  named Peanut Butter & Co. has gone as far as to create flavored peanut butter spreads, and even open up a restaurant in NYC that specializes in custom PB & J creations. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve salivated over their menu a number of times. Like most people however, I cant just pick up and go to NYC every time I get a craving for a bite of my childhood.

Not to fear people! There is an easy solution to this. All we need to do it get a little crafty at home, and see if we cant come up with a few of our own delectable creations. With PB & J, just about anything goes, but I want to offer up a few of my favorite variations just to get your brainstorming started.

Just a general tip to keep in mind as you concoct:

  1. Think about both flavor and texture. I love adding a little crunch to my PB & J.
  2. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Peanut butter and Cayenne pepper… why not!
  3. Almost any PB & J sandwich tastes better toasted. I promise.
  4. Try new breads, bagels, English muffins, waffles… etc…

Novice Noms PB &J Variations

  • The Hiker: PB, J, assorted nuts, dried fruit, and m&ms
  • Breakfast PB & J: PB, J, cereal of choice (I prefer raisin bran)
  • Banana Bonanza: PB, banana chips (or regular banana’s for less crunch), cinnamon, oatmeal, and honey
  • PB & J French toast: Traditional PB & J, dunked in eggs and cooked like french toast
  • PB Chocolate Sinner: PB, Nutella, crushed chocolate chip cookies
  • Fall Harvest: PB, thin apple slices, cinnamon
  • Big Bad Breakfast: PB, fried egg, bacon (warning this sandwich is delicious but may instantly clog your arteries)
  • Peanut Butter Joy: PB, Nutella, and coconut flakes
  • Jelly and Schmear : Jelly and cream cheese

That’s all I have for now. Try one of these tasty combos or get out there and star creating your own. Leave a comment and let us know if you come up with any great new ideas! I’d love to hear from you.

Also, just wanted to say a quick thank you to all my readers. We passed 1,000 hits this week! I really appreciate all the support and feedback you guys have given me!

Until next time, enjoy peanut butter and jelly time!


Homemade Potato Chips a la Microwave

 

Hot pockets, Popcorn, TV dinners… The list of foods you can cook in the microwave is probably endless. However, the list of  easy and delicious  foods you can cook in the microwave is substantially shorter. That’s why for today’s Novice Noms recipe, I give you Homemade Potato Chips made via your microwave.

You might be asking yourself, why would I ever want to take the time and effort to make something that I can just buy pre-made in a bag for about $1… While this seems like a good question, regular readers should know by now, because it’s easy, fun, healthier, and tastes better – THAT’S WHY!I’m not saying to make these anytime you’re craving a salty crunch in your life, but every once in a while, they’re a great and simple way to shake up your snack routine.

The Potato Prep Work:

  1. Take your favorite glass baking dish and rub the bottom down with some vegetable oil (you only need to do this at the beginning, unless you find your potato chips starting to stick after several batches).
  2. Clean off you potatoes thoroughly, but don’t peel. I mean seriously, the skin is one of the best parts!
  3. Carefully, I’ll say it again CAREFULLY, slice the potato as thinly as your knife skills allow. Note: the more evenly you slice them the easier it will be to ensure constant cooking times (also the thinner the slice the less cook time needed).
  4. Soak the slices in cold water for about 10 min. then dry completely.

Baking your Spuds:

  1. Preheat your oven to… oh wait… we’re using a microwave… SCORE! Forget I even mentioned this step.
  2. Place potato slices in your baking dish so that they are laying flat and not overlapping.
  3. Sprinkle some salt, garlic powder, Cajun spices, or whatever other seasonings your heart desires, or your spuds.
  4. Punch in 5 min. and let your microwave do the rest of the work. (Note depending on slice size you may need more or less time… best just to figure this out trial and error style)
  5. When your chips are crispy and slightly browned take them out and toss in any extra seasonings you may desire. Repeat until you’re cooked all of your spuds.
  6. Grab some friends and devour.

That’s all there is to it. These easy-treats have a fantastic potatoey taste, along with a crisp yet chewy texture that’s reminiscent of something you might buy from a greasy stall at a county fair. Unlike the oil soaked mounds of chips that you would find there however, this snack is not deep fried, so it can be technically considered “healthy”.

So next time you reach for an old crinkled bag of Lays, or plan to “pop the top” on your favorite can of Pringles, why not get crafty and zap your own batch of chips. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did!